The Certainty of Uncertainty-Ecc 11,1-6
The Certainty of Uncertainty
Theme: The Christian life is full of risks but knowing and living with God in control enables the believer to take personal and spiritual chances.
INTRODUCTION SLIDE ONE
When I was preparing today’s message I was reminded of Daniel 3:1-23. If you recall this story is about three young men willing to take a risk by not bowing to an image and for that they were tossed into the fiery furnace.
Shadrack, Mishack and Abendiggo understood the risk they were taking to follow God. They new that being faithful would require them to step outside of their safety zone.
Before we look at the Biblical perspective on risk there are a few things to consider:
1. Not all people consider themselves risk takers…but anything outside of our comfort zone is a form of risk.
2. Not all risk takers will risk in the same way…
Even if you consider your self a risk taker, what you may consider a risk, others may see it as part of everyday life. A recent television commercial had a close up of two rough and athletic men as they discussed things they would try.
Sky diving-no I don’t trust planes
Bungee jumping-no, I can’t stand the feeling of falling
Scuba diving-no, I can’t handle the chance of encountering a sharks
Horse back riding- no not a chance, horses scare me.
At the end of the commercial the camera widens and shows the two men as they cling to the face of a mountain thousands of feet up.
3. Society has tried to eliminate risk as a part of every day life.
We live in a society that makes every attempt possible to reduce risk at every turn. Much of the modern safety measures have made our lives and the world a better place to live, but it has also created a mentality that has made risk something to be avoided.
Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of shots you never take.” Where would we be in life if we didn’t take chances in our lives…
4. What would life be without risk…
Would we drive our cars (some may be taking a bigger risk than others)? Would we fly in a plane? Would we start a business? Would we teach a Sunday School class? Would we help the poor? Would we share our faith? Would we start a new ministry? Would we follow Christ?
Risk is a part of everyday life that is encouraged in the Bible. In Ecc. 11:1-6, the preacher encourages us to take risks by calling us in three areas:
Call to action, Call to reality, Call to diligence.
1. CALL TO ACTION (1-2) SLIDE 3
11:1 Send your grain overseas, for after many days you will get a return. 11:2 Divide your merchandise among seven or even eight investments, for you do not know what calamity may happen on earth.
A. Take risks and you may receive a return (1) SLIDE 3a
i. Reference to maritime trade
Personal risks: those investments, actions and activities done for personal gain.
ii. It is also a reference to Christian services
Interpersonal risks: those investments, actions and activities that benefit others lives and draw them towards a relationship with Christ. The gain for ourselves is mainly personal satisfaction of serving others.
Commentators have argued whether this verse refers to financial risk or the risk associated with helping others. There is little widespread consensus but this verse could easily applied to both.
Risks are encouraged whether they are in our personal endeavors or more importantly in our actions towards others. The outcome according to verse one is that through this willingness to take risks we may see a return on the investments we have made.
B. Make smart decisions to reduce the negative effects of risk. (2) SLIDE 3b
i. Personally-do not put all your eggs in one basket
We know that risk is entered into (if we’re smart) when we have taken the time to investigate and study the potential dangers of what we are getting ourselves into. Ecc. Encourages us to spread our investments around…to be smart…to do what it takes to reduce risks that are not carefully thought out.
ii. Don’t serve people blindly, but when you do give generously
Christ calls us to serve and give our lives for the sake of others. We are to sacrifice and take great chances and risks for the cause of Christ. But we are also not to walk into any situation blindly…
ILL-people asking for help from the church
Risk is a biblical principle. In Matt. 25:14-30 Jesus tells a parable about the business man that entrusted his money to three servants. The servants that risked the money gained a greater return and were praised. The one that did nothing with the money was rebuked.
We can often think of Christianity as safe and secure and in Christ it is, but the Christian life is meant to be an adventure riddled with challenges, changes and risks. But for some of us the last real risk we have taken in our lives was that initial decision to follow Christ and even in that we play it safe.
2. CALL TO REALITY (3-5) SLIDE 4
11:3 If the clouds are full of rain, they will empty themselves on the earth, and whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, the tree will lie wherever it falls. 11:4 He who watches the wind will not sow, and he who observes the clouds will not reap. 11:5 Just as you do not know the path of the wind, or how the bones form in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
A. What will happen has already been determined. (3) SLIDE 4a
i. Clouds release rain when it is there time.
ii. If a tree is to fall it will land the way it was intended
God knows all things and everything that takes place throughout the universe is because God has made it so. He has determined what will happen and when it will happen. It does not matter if it is an act of nature or what you choose to eat for breakfast, God has determined the outcome.
B. Certainty in this life will never come. (4) SLIDE 4b
i. A farmer who waits for the perfect conditions will never plant
ii. A farmer who waits for the assurance of clear skies will never harvest
Waiting for everything to be just right is a pipe dream, it does not exist. Farmers know this better than almost anyone. But this applies to others as well. Single men and women waiting to get married until everything is perfect will remain single. Married couples who want to get themselves established before they have children rarely get it all worked out. Christians who wait to get involved in ministry until all the problems are solved will forever remain on the sidelines.
C. God’s ways cannot be predicted or understood (5) SLIDE 4c
i. The wind is unpredictable as is the spirit of God
1. Comparison of wind to the spirit: Nephesh
ii. The forming of human being in the womb is a mystery
1. Seeing the ultra sound of my children and knowing the biology but still a mystery
iii. The work of God…In Genesis 22 God leads Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac…God’s ways are a mystery.
Some would see this reality as a horrible negative part of life. How can we go on living if there is no certainty? But we need to see the uncertainty of life as an opportunity to have variety in lives. Life would hardly be worth living if everything would be unchanging…
ILL-Hiking the Mantario trail
The change in plans was actually a positive thing. Not only did it protect us from what could have been a disastrous situation but gave me the opportunity to get back home and to spend valuable time with my family. God has placed in our lives the need for movement, variety and risk, without it we grow stale. It is great to know that God has everything in the palm of his hand, he understands and controls all things. It is only when we begin to understand this that we can take risks knowing that the only certainty is that of uncertainty.
3. CALL TO DILIGENCE (6) SLIDE 5
11:6 Sow your seed in the morning, and do not stop working until the evening; for you do not know which activity will succeed – whether this one or that one, or whether both will prosper equally.
A. Work hard, do not give up or walk away (6a) SLIDE 5a
i. Everyday is an opportunity to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. Be persistent. Take risks and follow through.
1. Seed: tasks, investments, ministries
2. Certain parts are out of your control, a mystery, reliance on God, a risk.
ii. Laziness is not the recipe for success
B. The diligent will see results (6b) SLIDE 5b
i. Some of our efforts may produce great results
ii. Some of our efforts may give little results
iii. All your efforts may see great outcomes
The undertones here are that diligence pays off, it produces a much better result and it has a better chance of bringing a good return on your risk. This does not mean that we do not continue to try. Failure provides a lesson not defeat. As Charles Spurgeon once said:
“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
Laziness is not typically rewarded. It is only when we carry through that the possibility for success is known. God can take any amount that you give him but he also desires to work through people who are wholly committed to the end. He asked that of Christ and he asks that of us. We should never have to face the question, “I wonder what would have happened if I would have tried harder.”
The preacher has encouraged us to take a chance, to step out and risk it all. He says that risk is a good thing and a positive aspect of life and throughout the scriptures we can find time after time where this is true. The preacher helps us understand the dynamics of risk.
He says that we are to enter into risk with our head on straight, to be wise and to think ahead so that we can see great results.
He wants us to realize that God is in control of all things, that we will never know for certainty all the pitfalls and dangers, but life would hardly be worth living if we never stepped out.
He calls us to work hard and never give up, because it is through perseverance that we will reap the rewards.
Following God is all about being a risk taker. Without the willingness to take risks…
Moses would never have gone back to Egypt
Elijah would not have faced the prophets of Baal
Esther would not have appealed to the King for the lives of her people
Daniel would not have prayed three times a day
David would not have stood before Goliath
Rahab would not have helped the Israelites
Peter would not have stepped out of the boat
Barnabus would not have embraced Saul
Paul would not have gone on his missionary journeys
In life there is only the certainty of uncertainty, but risk is possible because we have a God who is all-knowing, always in control and constantly watching over us. Without this assurance the risk would be foolish but with the knowledge of God’s providential hand on our lives it is time to risk it all.
As a church we (together as a congregation) are called to risk. We have a mandate from Christ for every person to go into our community and reach out, to build each other up and to maintain the Unity of faith with grace and compassion. This requires us all to take chances, to feel uncomfortable and to put our full reliance on God.
What is God calling you to risk?… SLIDE 6